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“Hello Gorgeous!” Spicy Turmeric & Habanero Clam Linguine

It’s easy to cook clams. Heat them in a flavorful broth a few minutes, then watch them pop open their shells and say “Hello Gorgeous!”

That’s my favorite line from Funny Girl. Though I don’t think Barbra Streisand’s Ms. Brice meant clams– or shellfish for that matter. Still I impersonate her tonality whenever faced with a big bowl of steaming clams. “Hello Gorgeous!”

You wouldn’t think of clams as gorgeous at first glance. And that’s my point. Clams are sweet. Clams are briny. Doesn’t that seem like an oxymoron?

But it may be these two opposing forces that make clams so unexpectedly sure of themselves. It gives them the Fanny Brice style self-esteem to unabashedly mingle with all sorts of partners. One of the boldest combinations I can think of is turmeric and roasted garlic. Turmeric and roasted garlic are great place to start for most any shellfish. Trust me. It’s a fact.

But habanero, turmeric and roasted garlic is really something to look at! Add stunningly fresh shellfish to this trio and you too will be quoting Funny Girl. So come on. Bring a large pot of this flavorful combination to a boil. Add clams and cover the pot. Lower the heat and shake a few times while they simmer. In less than 8 minutes the shells should have opened and the shellfish will be fragrant and cooked to perfection. Toss with linguine… “Hello Gorgeous!”

clams on iceSpicy Turmeric & Habanero Clam Linguine

serves 4 CLICK here for a printable recipe

  • 8 clv garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 T kosher salt, plus more as seasoning as needed
  • 1 lb dried linguine
  • 2 T extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric
  • 1 habanero, seeded & minced, plus more as garnish if desired
  • 2 c packed whole basil leaves plus 1/2 cup chopped basil
  • 1 T coarsely cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 c gin
  • 1 c bottled clam juice
  • 48 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 1 lime, zest only
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 4 T unsalted butter
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • lime wedges, as needed

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Loosely wrap the garlic cloves in foil and bake for about 25 minutes, until very soft. Peel the garlic. Set aside.

Bring 6 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Drop the pasta into the boiling water, stir to separate and cook until al dente, according to package directions. Drain and set aside. Reserving the empty pot to use later.

In a medium saucepan, heat the oil. Add the garlic, turmeric and minced habanero and cook over moderate heat until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

Add the whole basil leaves, black pepper, gin and clam juice, cover and cook over low heat until the liquid has reduced to 1/2 cup, about 10 minutes. Strain the reduction into the large large pot you boiled the linguine in, pressing on the solids.

Bring the strained liquid to a boil. Add the clams, cover and cook, shaking the pot a few times, until they start to open, 3 minutes; as the clams open, transfer them to a bowl and keep covered. When all of the clams have opened, boil the broth over high heat until reduced to about 2 cups of clam broth, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lime zest and lime juice.

Add the cooked linguine to the pot with the reduced clam broth and toss to coat. Add the butter, 1 tablespoon at a time, until incorporated into the sauce. Transfer the pasta to the pot, stirring to combine. Turn the pasta out onto a serving bowl. Top with the clams, chopped basil and additional minced habernero if desired. Serve warm with lime wedges on the side..

Adapted from Zakary Pelaccio

Greg Henry writes the food blog Sippity Sup- Serious Fun Food, and contributes the Friday column on entertaining for The Back Burner at Key Ingredient. He’s active in the food blogging community, and a popular speaker at IFBC, Food Buzz Festival and Camp Blogaway. He’s led cooking demonstrations in PanamaCosta Rica, and has traveled as far and wide as Norway to promote culinary travel. He’s been featured in Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Times, More Magazine, The Today Show Online and Saveur’s Best of the Web. Greg also co-hosts The Table Set podcast which can be downloaded on iTunes or at Homefries Podcast Network.